When I first encountered this book in a friend's bathroom I definitely thought it was called The Meaning of Life at first glance and this (undoubtedlyWhen I first encountered this book in a friend's bathroom I definitely thought it was called The Meaning of Life at first glance and this (undoubtedly common) optical aberration made what I discovered inside so much funnier.
This is a wonderfully creative book. It’s a list of definitions which can be read randomly. All the terms are actual places--many being towns in England and America--and the definitions for things and happenings for which there was no single term for beforehand. In other words it's a list of observations of "the little things" but not in a groan-inducing early 90's Seinfeld stand-up comedy way whatsoever. It's like an intelligent, irreverent, childlike-curiosity-driven, British version of the "Didja ever notice when...", "...airplane peanuts...", etc, tiresome bullshit routine we all know, loathe, and were sick of mocking a decade ago. It combines that basic style of observational humor with an eye for the truly tiny details and a sensitive finger on the pulse of absurdity lurking behind, well, most things in daily life.
E.g. at random:
OSBASTON (n.) A point made for the seventh time to somebody who insists that they know exactly what you mean but clearly hasn’t got the faintest idea.
OSHKOSH (n., vb.) The noise made by someone who has just been grossly flattered and is trying to make light of it.
OSSETT (n.) A frilly spare-toilet-roll-cosy.
OSWALDTWISTLE (n. Old Norse) Small brass wind instrument used for summoning Vikings to lunch when they’re off on their longships, playing.
OBWESTRY (abs.n.) Bloody-minded determination on part of a storyteller to continue a story which both the teller and the listeners know has become desperately tedious.
OUGHTERBY (n.) Someone you don’t want to invite to a party but whom you know you have to as a matter of duty.
OUNDLE (vb.) To walk along leaning sideways, with one arm hanging limp and dragging one leg behind the other. Most commonly used by actors in amateur production of Richard III, or by people carrying a heavy suitcase in one hand.
OZARK (n.) One who offers to help just after all the work has been done.
MILWAUKEE (n.) The melodious whistling, chanting and humming tone of the milwaukee can be heard whenever a public lavatory is entered. It is the way the occupants of the cubicles have of telling you there’s no lock on their door and you can’t come in.
NAZEING (participial vb.) The rather unconvincing noises of pretended interest which an adult has to make when brought a small dull object for admiration by a child.
PITSLIGO (n.) Part of traditional mating rite. During the first hot day of spring, all the men in the tube start giving up their seats to ladies and straphanging. The purpose of pitsligo is for them to demonstrate their manhood by displaying the wet patches under their arms.
PLEELEY (adj.) Descriptive of a drunk person’s attempt to be endearing.
PLYMOUTH (vb.) To relate an amusing story to someone without remembering that it was they who told it to you in the first place.
PLYMPTON (n.) The (pointless) knob on top of a war memorial.
"In Life*, there are many hundreds of common experiences, feelings, situations and even objects which we all know and recognize, but for which no words exist.
On the other hand, the world is littererd with thousands of spare words which spend their time doing nothing but loafing about on signposts pointing at places.
Our job, as wee see it, is to get these words dow off the signposts and into the mouths of babes and sucklings and so on, where they can start earning their keep in everyday conversation and make a more positive contribution to society.
Another book I read for a Social & Political Activism course, which is rife with glaring injustices to boil the blood and get one's wheels turningAnother book I read for a Social & Political Activism course, which is rife with glaring injustices to boil the blood and get one's wheels turning about complex issues of ethics, social order, etc....more
Damn, this cheered me up. I have a deep abiding love for Colbert. He's a brilliant comic, actor and perhaps foremost a brilliant writer--and it was woDamn, this cheered me up. I have a deep abiding love for Colbert. He's a brilliant comic, actor and perhaps foremost a brilliant writer--and it was wonderful to be reminded of his writing skills, considering that he has a team of writers on his (still hilarious) show....more
I read all of these interviews in Mich and Clark's bathroom while temporarily living in their attic in Milwaukee over the course of the summer monthsI read all of these interviews in Mich and Clark's bathroom while temporarily living in their attic in Milwaukee over the course of the summer months of 2006....more
A great collection of essays and introductory essays by the editor Clive Cazeaux to each historical grouping of essays. Two of my favorites are NietzsA great collection of essays and introductory essays by the editor Clive Cazeaux to each historical grouping of essays. Two of my favorites are Nietzsche's amazing essay "On Truth & Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense" (I dare anyone to not be affected by the opening paragraph**) and Merleau-Ponty's essay "The Intertwining - The Chiasm."
**"In some remote corner of the universe, poured out and glittering in innumerable solar systems, there once was a star on which clever animals invented knowledge. That was the highest and most mendacious minute of "world history"—yet only a minute. After nature had drawn a few breaths the star grew cold, and the clever animals had to die.
One might invent such a fable and still not have illustrated sufficiently how wretched, how shadowy and flighty, how aimless and arbitrary, the human intellect appears in nature. There have been eternities when it did not exist; and when it is done for again, nothing will have happened. For this intellect has no further mission that would lead beyond human life. It is human, rather, and only its owner and producer gives it such importance, as if the world pivoted around it. But if we could communicate with the mosquito, then we would learn that he floats through the air with the same self-importance, feeling within itself the flying center of the world. There is nothing in nature so despicable or insignificant that it cannot immediately be blown up like a bag by a slight breath of this power of knowledge; and just as every porter wants an admirer, the proudest human being, the philosopher, thinks that he sees on the eyes of the universe telescopically focused from all sides on his actions and thoughts."
This is a different translation than the one in the book, but you get the idea....more
This was a pretty fitting companion piece to all the beat literature I was reading at the time. Except this was the unromanticized, uncut, abysmally dThis was a pretty fitting companion piece to all the beat literature I was reading at the time. Except this was the unromanticized, uncut, abysmally depressing side of trying to take the path of excess to the temple of wisdom. Depressing in that way that seems somehow necessary to engage and then somehow subsequently appears beautiful. Tragically beautiful, perhaps. And I suppose it was just plain fascinating for a suburban kid who'd never been aware that such a world as the bowery exists. But I repeat, I did not naively romanticize it either. ...more